While trying to shrink my “to-read” list of mails and posts, I stumbled on this freshly kept reference to Kevin Kelly’s, “The Big Here” Challenge. The exercise in watershed awareness (hatched 30 years ago by Peter Warshall) consists in 30 questions to elevate your awareness (and literacy) of the greater place in which you live. The intent of this quiz is to inspire you to answer the questions you can’t initially. You then search the actual answers using the recommendations left by previous quiz takers. Kevin pitches it as follow:
You live in the big here. Wherever you live, your tiny spot is deeply intertwined within a larger place, imbedded fractal-like into a whole system called a watershed, which is itself integrated with other watersheds into a tightly interdependent biome. At the ultimate level, your home is a cell in an organism called a planet. All these levels interconnect. What do you know about the dynamics of this larger system around you? Most of us are ignorant of this matrix. But it is the biggest interactive game there is. Hacking it is both fun and vital.
Questions like “Who uses the paper/plastic you recycle from your neighborhood?”, “Where does the pollution in your air come from?” and “Where does your garbage go?” match my interests in urban awareness revealing the implicit and complex aspects of the city. With a location-based spin, this quiz might become good inspiration for a pervasive game to host (i.e. used as alibi for) my research framework. The “here” would become “wherever”. Both place-based and proximity-based questions could also provide the opportunity to collect data (collaboration to get an answer). For my research interest, I would need to define a couple of elementary actions within locating, searching, navigating, identifying and checking and then design a system with 2-3 different types of location techniques differing in their information quality (e.g. GSM, WiFi, GPS) and timeliness (e.g. automatic vs. manual location disclosure, different types of location update protocols).
Update: Matt Jones got a similar inspiration after reading Kevin Kelly (Here 2.0: Big Here, Little Screen). In a post on Game Cities (Is a great city for playing a game in, the same as a great city for playing in?) he points to a the Barcelona’s Cerda Grid (1859 – 1900) by Ildefonso Cerdà.